Jan 20

A lot of work went into learning how to granby

More than eight years ago, I got my grubby hands on Chuck Anzalone’s Tornado Guard instructional (now out of print and hard to get). And it was filled with all kinds of inversions and roly poly guard tricks. But I couldn’t do any of them.

Hell, every time I tried to granby, it was like a baby falling flat on his face while learning to walk.

I really wanted to hit those techniques though, so this is what I did:

For a period of about a month, I practiced rolling at home. But I created progressions that focused on the stickiest portions of the movement for me. For example, I could never complete the last portion of granby roll.

Over and over again, I would just flop down on my back half way through the movement.

That was my sticky point.

So started at that half way point by rolling back and touching my feet to the ground (if you can do this, you can granby). Then I worked just on spinning diagonally to my knees.

And I just kept progressing from that point as I reached milestones.

It only took me that month before I was able to invert and granby roll, and back then I was about 290 lbs. It didn’t matter though because practicing in a systematic way led to improvement.

And that’s a principle that can be applied to any thing.

Find the sticky point in a movement or technique, and then isolate it and work only on that small piece until you conquer it.

And when it comes to the granby in particular, the sticky points are generally found in two places:

  • Lack of flexibility (you can’t roll up on your shoulders enough and your feet don’t come anywhere near the ground)
  • Lack of motor skill (you’re unable to keep your hips in the air throughout the movement ie falling over halfway through)

For the lack of flexibility, it’s going to take time. I had a unfair advantage in that area. I wasn’t naturally flexible there, but in those days, hanging out in that position used to be a part of the warmup, so I gained that flexibility over a period of a few months.

If you have motor skill issues though, check out this video (in it, I break down several of the progressions I once used):

And just for fun, this is the series of attacks that inspired me to want to know how to granby:

Enjoy.

Jan 19

An ezekiel choke straight out the pits of hell

Jan 18

Granbying through the universe

In some far flung corner of the interwebz, a video of mine has resurfaced. I stumbled upon it by chance, and the very first thing I noticed is that small changes had been made. It was clearly not in its original form.

Know what though? I’m not even mad.

In fact, it’s interesting.

That video was made to demonstrate some of the movement progressions I used as a white belt to learn how to invert and granby. And even in its new form, it’s still performing that function.

But let me share a little story with ya:

The first medal I ever earned from the Pan Ams was at blue belt. I won four tough matches and then lost in the finals. But before I ever made it to that last match, the granby saved me from a negative spiral of events.

It happened in the first match.

The score was tied, and I was playing guard. I saw an opportunity, and I struck. I shot the triangle, but he was ready and he started to smash pass right away.

I felt the control slipping away as my knees were pushed to my face, and I bailed to turtle. But right then, I immediately granbyed (if it’s not a word, it is now) back to guard, and I swept him shortly afterward.

Without the granby, that would have been a dangerous situation (clock chokes, backtakes, smashing, oh my).

More importantly though, I looked into his eyes, and I saw frustration. That was an immediate confidence boost, and he never had another chance in that match. I swept. I passed. I mounted.

And even back then, what came next was a foregone conclusion.

The ezekiel slipped in as smooth as silk.

And it was a wrap.

Mastering movement is one of the keys to unlocking the game. If I can give you any advice that really matters, it’s this:

Do not assume that you can’t do something because it’s difficult. That’s especially when it comes to movement. Some techniques will require you to perform movements that aren’t natural for you. That’s fine. Just because they aren’t easy, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be developed. And if you have trouble doing any technique, it’s either because you’ve forgotten crucial steps or more work has to be done to improve your ability to do that movement.

Jan 17

No underhook, no problem

Jan 16

When the snake strykes, you only hear the hyss

I used to be quite the fisherman.

Yes, it’s true.

As a young buck, me and my rowdy crew used to near the water almost every day. There were two spots that we used to hit the most.

One was behind our neighborhood. You had to weave through a hidden trail through the forest, and it led to a nice little area where we would just hang out for hours, digging fire pits and casting rods.

The other was off a railroad track that also doubled as a bridge. And sometimes, we would go for a swim there.

In fact, one summer, during a break from fishing, we went pretty far out, and I even had a little flotation tube.

I was having so much fun that I stayed out there long after everyone else started going back.

That’s when it happened.

I started hearing a hissing sound.

I’ll admit it. I got scared. Really really scared. It was an unseen threat. I had no idea where it was at, and I was in the water alone.

Suddenly though, as I was shouting for help, I noticed that the tube was losing air. And THAT was the source of the hissing sound.

Whew.

Anyway.

If you wondering why my little run-in with an imaginary snake in the water matters, it’s because fear is often an illusion. Someone great once said that fear is false evidence appearing real.

And in our art fear can hold you back.

Every time you refuse to attempt technique that you haven’t already mastered during a roll, it’s because of fear.

Every time you run away from the tougher guys in your academy instead of training with them whenever you can, it’s because of fear.

And every time stall out your partners like you’re up by an advantage in the finals of Worlds, it’s because of fear.

Reject fear and grow your game.

It’s only an illusion anyway.

But here’s something that isn’t one.

Today is generally the day when I spend hours on end in the academy, brainstorming and taping more lessons for my course. A lot was done on the half guard course. And these are few things that you have to look forward to once editing is done:

  • A stupid simple way to reset the position when your opponent start attempting a knee cut on you. (It will frustrate the HELL out of them)
  • A whole offensive system for dealing with those wily guys who backstep immediately when you beat them on the underhook. And there is even a simple counter to those pesky backstep leg attacks.
  • All kinds of tricks and recounters for dealing with opponents who try to stop you from sweeping them with the kneetap. And one is just outright nasty. (I like it a lot)
  • A way to deal with one of the most horrible position you can be put in, the dreaded double underhooks hulk smash. (You want to get out with all due haste, and this is one of the simplest ways I know)

Just wait. They’ll be loaded up soon enough.

And you can start learning my sneaky ways right away, if you so wish:

Jan 15

Psh, I don’t need no arms for this armbar

Somewhere in some far flung corner of the interwebz, this was written:

“As a blue belt I’m horrified at my own armbar ability. Horrified. I know how to execute from all relevant positions, but I must have hit about 10 from guard ever. I see people locking up beautiful armbars from the back and catching them mid scramble and I just get disgusted with my own inability. I always get stuck underneath, or miss the elbow, or just generally hate myself.”

Let’s break that down just a wee bit.

Two technical issues were identified:

  • Stuck underneath (stacked on your neck so hard that you might want to see a chiropractor tomorrow)
  • Lost the elbow (bah, all that effort for nothing)

Those are common issues, and even if you don’t get stacked, you can also get stuck because of immobile hips. Usually that’s because you’re not using your legs in the right way. And the legs play a very crucial role in the attack.

Nowadays, it’s what I emphasize the most.

Example from the instructor’s logbook:

Several moons ago, I taught a small yet hyper focused class. We drilled one technique over and over again. And coincidentally enough, it was a specific variation of the armbar from closed guard.

That wasn’t the initial plan at all though.

I adapted the class because as we drilled, I noticed specific small adjustments that could be better emphasized to improved their execution (and sometimes you’re just blessed with a group of savages that get excited about incremental improvement).

Here’s the short list of things I noticed:

  • Not bridging the hip towards the arm to create connection.
  • Not getting the top leg (the one closest to the hips) high enough in the armpit to control posture and create an ideal finish angle.
  • Not clamping the bottom leg (the one closest to the head) down on the crown of the head to prevent the stack.
  • Not pinching the knees tightly together to entrap the arm.

We improved all of those aspects of the attack one by one, and the improvement in their execution was like night and day. I can’t give you that kind of direct feedback right now, but I have updated the deathlock course.

There are now three new drills that focus on improving your effectiveness with the armbar from closed guard.

The first one, especially, is absolutely critical. It will teach you exactly how to use your legs to entrap your opponent and give them little hope of escape.

When it comes to finishing the attack with confidence, there is NO better drill than this one.

Learning is yours for the taking, you just have to kick through the door:

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