Mar 27

The turtle bites even when the guard has already been passed

Would you like to increase your ability to escape from side control by adding more tools to your arsenal? If so, this is the right place to be.

Turtle guard has traditionally been used to prevent guard passes. But it’s still possible to transition there even if you’ve lost the battle to retain your guard, and once there, the turtle can bite.

This is what you’ll learn today:

  • How to escape to turtle guard from side control.
  • How to reverse the position and land in top of side control.
  • How to hit a sneaky shoulder lock from the bottom of turtle guard.

Watch the Techniques in Action

Additional Details for the Individual Techniques

We’re going to watch the video together in a sense, because as I write this, I’m watching it. And I’ll share with you some details that deserve to be emphasized more.

Side Control Escape

  • The thumb in grip with your far arm will give you additional space creation and distance management.
  • Stepping out with your outside leg will increase the leverage of your bridge and allow you to create more space.
  • The bridge is not a bump. Let me repeat that. The bridge is not a bump. It’s an elevation. You stay elevated until you’re ready to transition to the next step.


  • The first crucial element is your grip on their wrist. That HAS to be tight, and you want to hug the arm to your body. The stronger the connection, the smoother the technique.
  • The next crucial goal is to shoot yourself under them. That gives you leverage. And leverage is POWER.

Shoulder Lock

  • Now you want to space with the grip, so instead of pulling them arm close, you have to push it out slightly. That is the hole you will use to come out from under.
  • In the last transition, the focus is on moving your hips around and over their shoulder. If you do that right, your head will naturally move in out from under them. And from there, the submission is easy.

 Enjoy and feel free to share with others who would benefit from adding these techniques to their arsenal.

Mar 27

Taking it back to the old school with a solid mount flow

Do you want to improve your finish rate on top of mount? If so, this is the right place to be.

We’re going to do a deep dive on an effective and basic offensive system for mount. It cycles through the cross choke, armbar and triangle in a flow that makes sense. And I’m going to break it down for you beyond what you can learn just by watching the video.

Watch the Techniques in Action

Deep Dive on the Individual Techniques

The Cross Choke

Several years ago, I learned this variation on the cross choke, and it blew my mind. The elbow position on the first grip changes everything.

  • It shifts your palm to the sky, creating a better connection between the blade of your wrist and their neck.
  • It stabilizes you in the position, so that it will be hard to rock or roll you.
  • It aligns your elbow with the side of your opponent’s rib, and once there, you can make their life a little more miserable.
  • It pulls their head off the deck, creating space for your second grip.

The Armbar

There are a couple of things to note in this variation:

  • The threat of the cross choke gives you opponent incentive to make their arm vulnerable (and it is vulnerable whenever there is space between their elbow and their side).
  • Leaning slightly forward to their head will make the transition to S-Mount quicker and smoother.
  • When you fall back for the armbar, there is always a small opportunity to escape. The size of that opportunity varies depending on skill, but it is better to finish on the top.

The Triangle

Of all the techniques in the series, the triangle from the top will probably be the ones that gives you the most difficulty, but there are some important tidbits to keep in mind.

  • You must elevate the head to create space for your leg to slide under.
  • You must pin the arm so that you can create space so that your leg can go over it.
  • Once your leg is over their shoulder and under their neck, you must angle your body towards that leg to make it easier to lock the triangle.
  • Keep twisting your body so that your head moves towards and past their hips. That will apply an almost corkscrew like pressure to their neck.

Think of the adjustments you make on top in the same way that you think about the adjustments that have to made on the bottom. There is very little different, it just seems so because of your position.

Enjoy and feel free to share with others who would benefit from adding these techniques to their arsenal.

Mar 17

A little bit of logic when it comes to all the dominant positions

I hope you’re ready for this.

There’s a lot to absorb, but if you invest the time, you’ll receive a conceptual framework for learning all the dominant positions in Jiu-jitsu.

It’s geared, of course, to beginners. But all conceptual learners will find a tidbit that can be used to improve their training.

Learning Objectives

  • Top
    • Positional Control
    • Submissions
    • Transitions
  • Bottom
    • Escapes
    • Defensive Posture

There are common elements in all of the dominant positions, and you can break down what must be learned into categories that can be applied across the board. Above is that framework. And it can be used to guide your learning process.

For  the top positions, you start by focusing on positional control.

Learn the tricks of how to stay in the position once you get there.  Then you add submissions and transitions on top of that to develop a solid foundation. All of them can be and probably will be learned together, but being stable in the position must be a priority.

For the bottom positions, you start with defensive posture.

Understand how you can be attacked and minimize the risk, and then develop your escapes from the position.

Positional Control on Top

Positional control is an extensive topic.

There are many tricks for shutting down escapes and maintaining dominance. And it can easily and quickly become a very advanced discussion. But here are some tips and drills to get you started on the right path.


Rear Mount

  • Always glue your chest to their back and your chin to their shoulder when you’re directly behind your opponent. The connection you create between your body and your opponent’s will give you control. And the majority of your control comes from the control of the upper body. The hooks are helpful, but they’re a weaker control mechanism. Your focus must always be on the upper body first.
  • Always angle your opponent towards your choking hand. That angle opens up the armbar and bow and arrow choke. It also makes it harder for them to escape, which makes your position more stable.


  • Sitting heavy on the hips can make it easier for someone to roll you. That seems counter-intuitive. You want to be as heavy as possible, right? Wrong! You want one of two things: Hip immobilization or disconnection.

The primary ways that you immobilize the hip is by:

  • Dropping your hips slightly lower on their body and crossing your ankles.
  • Grapevining their legs (it’s when you hook their ankles with your feet and stretch them out in opposite directions.)

And the primary ways that you create disconnection is by:

  • Pinching your knees against their hips and elevating your hip slightly.
  • Transitioning into high mount (it’s when you drive your knee into their armpits and sit high on their chest).
  • Switching to butterfly mount (ask me about this).
  • Switching to s-mount.

These are all small adjustments you can make to secure your position. And the longer you stay in mount, the more success you’ll have to finishing from mount.

Side Control

When you’re on top of side control, there’s one thing that you can be absolutely sure of. Your opponent wants nothing more than to escape. They don’t want to be there. They want to somewhere where they’re comfortable.

Your job is to disappoint them. That starts with understanding where you have to control their body. And I’m about to give you a massive yet simple concept.

You have no control if you don’t control the head, hips, or both.

Nothing else matters. And if you lose those elements of control, you must transition to a different position.

Think about this concept and take note of what happens when people escape from your side control.


Rear Mount

  1. Find a training partner before or after class. Get back pack control (over/under grip) without any hooks. Then see how you can control the position with just upper back control as your partner moves and tries to escape.
  2. Now try the same drill with your hooks and feel the difference.
  3. Then try it with just hooks and no upper body control. The goal is to give you a better sense of how important upper body control is and finetune your senses there.


  1. Mount your partner with your hips squarely over their hips and see how long you can maintain the position as they try to escape.
  2. Now transition to a high mount with your knees under their armpits. See how they move to escape the position and try to hold control as long as possible.
  3. Lastly, go low and either grapevine their legs or lock your ankles below their hips (low mount). Then do the test again.

Side Control

  1. With your partner, establish whatever side control you know and test your control. The goal is to increase the time it takes for them to escape everytime.

These are all simple drills. Their goal is to reveal problem areas. You want to seeing the holes in your game so that we can address them. And problem solving is most powerful when you see the problem before the solution is revealed.

Submissions on Top

Rear Mount

  • Rear Naked Choke
  • Bow and Arrow Choke
  • Armbar


  • Cross Choke
  • Armbar
  • Americana

Side Control

  • Armbar
  • Americana
  • Kimura

For those three positions, these submissions are the most common attacks. You must know them, because someone is going to try them against you. And the better you understand them, the easier it will be for you to prevent them.

In addition to that, it’s a great starting point.

Learn all of these submissions as soon as you possibly can.


The most important thing that you must know at the basic level is how to transition between the dominant positions.

You must know how to get from:

  • Rear Mount to Mount
  • Side Control to Mount
  • Mount to Rear Mount
  • Mount to Side Control

Those four are the most important transitions to learn as soon as possible.

Defensive Posture

These are all little tricks for staying alive in horrible situations. I’ve given tips in this area, but we’re going over this more in class. A lot of this comes down to awareness because some of the rules can be broken.

Rear Mount

When someone is on your back, you must do two things right away:

  1. Bring your chin to your chest to close the path to the choke.
  2. Keep your elbows tight so your arms aren’t isolated.

After that you want to start attacking the angle of the position. Your goal is to move your body away from his choking hand (the arm that is over your shoulder). That will increase your safety in the position and also makes it easy for you to escape.

Another option would be to scoot down and create a disconnection between your back and their chest. That also weakens their position and opens the door for any escapes you want to try.


The key on the bottom is to keep your elbows tight to your side (it makes it hard to for your arms to be attacked) and block the path to your neck (it makes it hard for you to be choked). There are of course times when you have to break rules in order to escape. When you do that though, there’s always a risk involved.

Side Control

Ideally, you should never allow your opponent to control your head. Accomplishing that will make any escapes you attempt easier. And you prevent that head control by gluing your ear to your shoulders and using your hands to frame against their neck and arm.

In the absence of those barriers, you have to frame against their hip, and look for underhook or neck frame with your other hand. There’s a sequence of good defensive postures, and every escape becomes harder the further you go down the list.


It’s simple.

If you’re in a bad position, you have to get out. And the more time and effort you devote to honing your escapes, the more success you will have. Specific tips and tricks for escaping positions will wait for another article.

Drilling Suggestions

Tips and Tricks

  • Every week, give yourself a learning focus. Pick a technique or position or anything you want to improve at it. And every day, find some way to make an improvement. If you come to class, drill it a few times. If you can’t make it, pull up something similar on YouTube and imagine yourself doing it.
  • When you roll, give yourself an objective. It could be getting to a position. It could be setting up a specific submission. Or it could be anything else. The objective will give you increased focus.
  • When you drill, start with one technique and then try to connect another technique to it in flow. It will help you start seeing combination possibilities will lead to better fluidity of movement.

Mar 16

Watch out, a sleeping tiger is awakening within Senegal

Senegal Holds the Potential to Produce Jiu-jitsu Greatness 1

Over the past thirty years, Jiu-jitsu has spread across the globe, reaching places far and wide. The growth of the art has been extraordinary.

But has it reached its full potential?

No. Not even close. There are still so much of the world that has no idea that Jiu-jitsu exists. They have no idea of the benefit the art holds. And that is through no fault of their own. We have more work to do spread the art.

The Lionheart Initiative

Throughout the decades, the spread of Jiu-jitsu has followed a general pattern.

An upper belt moves to an area. A new school is opened. And over time, students are produced. That process works. But it is not easy, and more challenges arise when the area is remote or language barriers exist.

The Lionheart Initiative grew from the desire to overcome those barriers and plant the seed of Jiu-jitsu within the country of Senegal.

The country has a strong grappling traditions. Laamb Wrestling is the most popular sport there, and the level of intensity and passion that exists for that art will shock you.

It’s inspiring. And it will make you wonder what Jiu-jitsu could become if it experienced Senegal’s influence.

Senegal Holds the Potential to Produce Jiu-jitsu Greatness 2

The Seed Has Sprouted

Years ago, LHI planted a seed by sharing Jiu-jitsu with as many people as they could within Senegal. The first year from everything that I heard was a grind. 10 days of teaching and media events. And now the results of those efforts are revealing themselves.

I only had the opportunity to contribute on the third trip, but what I saw was extraordinary. Even without a black belt to consistently guide their training, it is clear that the future of Senegalese Jiu-jitsu is bright.

I saw passion. I saw skill. But most of all, I saw potential.

And I got excited for the future.

Senegal Holds the Potential to Produce Jiu-jitsu Greatness 3

Mar 06

Three key questions you must ask yourself‏

Our purpose is IMPROVEMENT. Every day. 1%.

Right now, at this moment, it’s the third month of the year. By this time, most people have given up on the new year resolutions they set two months ago.

Those who succeed though, do something miraculous. They transform intention into action. One step turns another and then another and another after that. They incrementally work towards their goal. And in time, even goals that seem unimaginable get CRUSHED.

That’s what I want for US.

And the three key questions I’m about to share with you will help you maintain your focus and keep you moving forward.

What are my goals in Jiu-jitsu this month?

This is the first question you must ask yourself. It will give you something to focus during the month. That is going to help you. It’s going to be easier to achieve best results possible from EVERY training sessions. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail to achieve the goal.

What matters is that you want it and GO AFTER IT.

If you asked yourself this question every month (and took it seriously), it would be amazing what you could achieve.

What project will I give myself this month?

At first glance, this question may seem like the first, but it’s different.

Projects are learning focuses. For example, one month you may choose Butterfly Guard. That means that you’re going to absorb knowledge about the position and those who are good at it. The purpose is simply to learn as much as possible about your focus.

The first question is more open-ended.

Are there any other students that I can build a relationship with?

Man, this is important. Most of my best training has come from building relationships with other students. Finding those teammates who come early and stay after. The ones who ask questions that inspire creative thought. They are special.

And if they have a BURNING DESIRE to achieve what you want to achieve and the FAITH to believe that it can done. It’s going to inspire you to push harder and further than you ever imagined.

Many minds focused on the same goal have an incredible power. And the benefits extend beyond Jiu-jitsu.

Ask Yourself These Questions Every Month

If it wasn’t clear before, these questions should be asked often. The answers will change all the time. That’s expected. The process, though, is going to lead to greater focus and that will give you greater results.