Sep 23

By axe or by guillotine

Something morbid to think about on this fine Saturday evening:

At the height of the French Revolution, there was a familiar scene.

One after another, those who were condemned to execution stumbled down from carts and were marshaled into line, as each in turn was led up the steps of a scaffold, where blood soaked the boards and dripped down through the cracks.

They had to watch as each person in front of them was strapped to the guillotine and know that they would soon share the same fate.

There was no escape.

No hope.

Only death awaited, and it came from above.

The guillotine had no remorse. Once released, it struck true, and a head would roll, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Now look, I’m not bringing this up because it’s fun to talk about, but because there are times on the mat, where you have to imagine yourself as an executioner. And if you tap into that mindset, your opponents will feel that same sense of hopelessness of those condemned to die.

Here’s what I mean:

Whether by axe or by guillotine, the strike must always come from above.

And the same exact thing applies to certain chokes like the loop choke, guillotine, and hand gun choke. Your head must always be above theirs before you strike.

It’s not negotiable.

The condition is set in stone.

And there is power in that knowledge.

If you internalize it, you’ll start to recognize immediately when someone moves into your strike zone. And once there, all you have to do is swing the axe or release the guillotine.

And you know what?

That recognition of execution conditions can be more broadly applied. All you have to do is take the time to break down what specifically has to happen in order for you to succeed with a particular technique.

And you’ll notice that sometimes, you don’t even have to force things.

People will walk smackdab into your strike zone on their very own. In those moments, don’t resist the urge. Strike. Swing the axe. Release the guillotine. And leave their head rolling along the ground.

Anyway, use that suggestion as you wish.

I’ll be exploring applications of this philosophy in greater detail up in the micro adjustments course.

Find out more here:

Sep 19

The most basic of underhook half offensive loops

The first game that any half guardian worth their salt must develop is the underhook game.

Just having one attack there won’t serve you that well though. Eventually, you’ll run into those base gods that make coming up to knees and driving across an arduous task.

That’s why the easiest way to improve your offense in the position (other than small positional tweaks like connecting the shoulder and head to their body) lies in creating a continuous flow between the two basic attacks.

The knee tap and the shovel sweep are a natural loop.

Why though?

Well, it’s because they are attacks that take advantage of each other’s common defensive response.

Case in point:

When you have that good underhook, head position, and hip rotation through controlling the ankle, nothing is easier than coming up to the knees and driving across for the knee tap.

But you’ll run into people who have strong overhooks and the ability to easily adjust their base and pressure to deal with the threat. Sometimes, you can’t reach the knee. Or their driving pressure is just too strong.

That’s the perfect situation to lock down on that overhook and roll under for the shovel.

And if somehow, somehow they stop it, you can just roll back the other way and come right back up for the knee tap.

That’s a loop right back.

Just back and forth until they can’t react in time.

And if you’re savvy, you’ll start paying attention to what happens when someone stops one of your attacks. Usually, there’s another opportunity somewhere, you just have to notice it and take advantage.

Anyway, this loop and more are broken down up in my half gyardy course.

Just distract the guards with some scantily clad women and slip inside here:

Sep 14

The Malys approach to submission grappling

As I was coming up the ranks, one of my biggest influences in the academy was a guy named Tyler Malys.

He was a blue belt when I first started, and we used to often get partnered up because he was also a big guy. But he wasn’t just as big as me. He was also more technical and strong as an ox. I got smashed on such a regular basis that it was straight up ridiculous.

I consider that reality to be one of the reasons that I gravitated to playing guard early. When we rolled, I was the small guy.

At a certain point though, he switched his focus to wrestling. In fact, he spent many years training with the wrestling team at Penn State, and his technical prowess just exploded exponentially. In addition to that too, he also spent almost year in Vegas training as one of Roy Nelson’s frequent sparring partners.

Overall, he’s just a straight beast.

And even now, rolling with him brings unique challenges.

But about a year ago, I spent several hours (over a few weeks) working with him on my wrestling, and we also spent some time discussing what a wrestling focused submission grappling program would look like.

In fact, he sent me a general outline for how he would like to structure the curriculum.

It breaks down the micro positions that happen on the feet with specific possible attacks for each. So there were attacks listed for the double overs, double unders, over under, collar tie, arm drag, russian and so on.

What was interesting to me then (and still is) was how many micro battles existed on the feet.

No joke.

The document is two pages long. And there are no explanations on it at all. It’s just a list of different technique options, organized by micro positions.

In hindsight, those discussions and that document are what made me start thinking about the micro battles in BJJ. It was also about that time that started becoming disillusioned with technique.

I realized that it doesn’t matter how secksy a technique is.

All that matters is how good you are at creating the conditions necessary for that technique to work.

And if you don’t understand what those conditions are and can’t create them consistently, you won’t have success at the highest level.

It’s that simple.

That’s why I’ve decided to delve even deeper into the conditions for each technique as a part of each new lesson in the micro adjustments course. The latest addition is an example.

I broke down the specific conditions required for the 50/50 ankle leg to work before showing a slight adjustment that makes the attack even more powerful.

That will be the flow.

And if that kind of teaching appeals to you, start learning my sneaky ways now. Each week, a new lesson will be added, but also an old lesson will be retired.

Here’s the link:

Sep 12

Deconstruction of a scissor sweep offensive flow

At a certain point, I realized that there was an innate connection between the scissor sweep and kneeshield half guard.

The whole cross collar and sleeve grip combination could be used interchangeably in both situations to unleash offense, and the only difference between the two was the position of the bottom leg.

Yeah, yeah I know.

That’s not a cool as a flying omoplata.

But hearken here.

There are so many different ways you can apply that knowledge to your benefit, and to demonstrate that, I’m going to deconstruct a sequence that depends on that reality.

Let’s start with the first attack.

In the gi, the traditional grips for the scissor sweep are of course, the cross collar and sleeve. Then you create just enough space to escape your hips and bring your top knee across the body.

Now you’re in the base of operations.

Then you have two conditions to achieve before the sweep will be possible.

First, you have to load his weight forward. The hips must separate from the heels, and ideally, his hips will come close to aligning vertically with his knees.

And second, you have to bring his knees as close together as possible.

Sometimes though, the guy won’t let you load his weight, or he’ll widen his base by spreading his knees further apart.

That’s where the kick out version of the sweep come into play. And once again, there are conditions to fulfill. You either have to force the leg (on the side you’re sweeping to) straight or stretch the knee out so far that the whole structure of his base crumbles to dust.

But you’ll also run into guys who either step that leg up or shift their weight away from you.

This is where I unleash the hip tilt on them by switching just the position of the bottom leg.

There’s a problem though.

One of the conditions for hitting this sweep is that I must have control of the other arm, and my grips are committed to the collar and sleeve. For that reason, their best defensive response is included in the calculations.

(You’ll still catch people by surprise sometimes.)

When that hand bases though (the most logical response), they’re in for a whole heap of pain. The loop choke awaits them. And it has no mercy at all.

My grip on the collar just has to slip down a wee bit, and my head has to be higher than theirs, and I have all the conditions I need to chop their head off like an executioner performing his duty.

Here’s where the offensive loop comes in.

If the choke fails, it’s generally because they were able to slip their head out towards the same side as your cross collar grip before you cinched their head in at your hip. That means that their weight shift back the other way. And all you need is the sleeve grip back to go back to kicking out the knee for the scissor sweep.

It’s all pretty simple.

Well, as long as you understand what has to happen for your thing (whatever it is) to work.

With that knowledge, you can internalize the offensive attack chains and know instantly when it’s time to give up on one attack in order to move to the next.

And if this exploration of offensive loops and attack chains is your cup of tea, study my deathlock system. It’s an endless flow of pain and misery once you master setting the initial grip right. And it’ll help add more teeth to your closed guard if you devote time to mastering it.

If, however, you just want to see something cool, it’s not for you.

In fact, unless you plan to actually submit people within closed guard, don’t check it out.

Otherwise, go here:

Sep 11

Soul crushing shoulder pressure

Lemme tell you about the perils of soul crushing shoulder pressure.

Back when I was coming up, there was a black belt (and he’s still around) who was infamous for his ability to put people to sleep with shoulder pressure alone. And he wasn’t no big and brawny dude either. In fact, if you saw him on the streets, you’d probably wouldn’t think he was much of a threat.

But he had figured out how to exert maximum amounts of force on the chin with his shoulder.

‘Tis how he controlled and dominated bigger guys (including me).

When that shoulder drops on you in just the right way. It’s horrible. You can’t bridge. You can’t move. And sometimes, if they’re really good, the choke just starts creeping up on you.

It’s such a helpless feeling.

And yesterday, one of my students experienced its peril.

At the IBJJF Open in DC, he faced some stiff competition, and the guy passed him twice in the same exact way. He got to the head, latched on to the lat, and dropped the shoulder with vicious precision before long stepping to the pass.

When you run into that guy that has that pressure, it doesn’t matter how heavy he is either.

(Hell, there’s even some guys walking around at 125 that can make you feel like a mountain dropped on you.)

That pressure is definitely something that you can’t grin and bear.

Something has to be done about it.

Right away.

So next week, a new lesson will be added to the micro adjustments course that focuses entirely on what I do neutralize soul crushing shoulder pressure from many different situations.

There are some stupid simple answers to the problem.

Things that aren’t commonly taught because they’re not flashy. Nothing that would make you go oooh and ahhh (unless you’re a nerd about the game).

For now though, another lesson has been locked and loaded.

It’s a breakdown of the win conditions for executing the 50/50 ankle lock, and you can learn it now if you so wish.

Here’s the link: