Aug 25

Crossface ain’t shyt

A few days back, I yapped about how preventing the cross face used to be all the rage among half guard “aficionados”.

That tactical choice stemmed from two things.

First of all, they hated being crossfaced, and that’s completely understandable. Good guys can make that position absolutely horrible.

(Feeling that shoulder grinding hard into your face can drain you too.)

It takes a special kind of chap to endure all that punishment and still refuse to give up the pass.

Then second, many half guard passing strategies (at the time and still to a degree) were built around the crossface. So by preventing it, you also decreased the possibility of having your guard passed.

Where they went wrong though is in their solution to the problem.

Instead of dominating the body in such a way as to make the crossface hella difficult, they chose to focus on actively blocking the arm itself.

To do that though, the mobility of the position has to be sacrificed.

Hell, it’s the same thing that happened with the lockdown.

The strategy locks you into a very limited path of offense. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s not completely wrong. If you play it well, you can make it work, but once you commit yourself to that path, you’re putting your half guard on death row and destroying all attempts at appeal.

You will run smackdab into a wall.

It’s just a matter of time.

Doubt me not on this.


Crossface ain’t an issue if you understand rotation control from the bottom.

Case in point:

There’s a grip in the gi that can be used to force your opponent to partially rotate away from you. They won’t even be able to touch you with their bicep.

No way. No how.


Here’s something that’s even better though.

No grip required or anything. You can do it in the gi or out of it.


Stop playing the game in the midrange. I harp on it all the time. I know. It’s important.

Your head must, must be tight against your opponent’s body on the same side as your underhook. Breaking that rule is dangerous, but when you hold true to it, the crossface is no threat.

You could even say that it ain’t shyt.

Enough on that.

For more half gyardy knowledge, slide on up in here:

Aug 24

Handing out punishment in the tilt matrix

Sometimes, it astounds me how many people to still fall victim to my hip tilt trickery.

Yes, yes I know that I make them react to the wrong thing, but still… sometimes it just seems like cheating. And there is sooo much that can be done off of that one threat too.

For example, as soon as that hand touches the mat, you can:

* Snatch up the kimura on the near side. (That elbow often disconnects from the side, as all of their focus goes to stopping the sweep.)

* Push the face away and underhook the near arm for a devastating crush. (I even like to bring my knee up in front of their face to isolate the arm and make the finish even more vicious.)

* Reach down and pull their ankle in. (It absolutely obliterates their base and makes finishing the sweep easy, no matter what post they have with their hand.)

* Swirl around to the far side and hip bump. (This is another easy way to finish the sweep, and as a bonus, mount is so so easy to get right away.)

*Snatch up the kimura on the far side. (I picked this up from Mahamed Aly a few years back, and it’s straight up devastating. In fact, I even hit far too easily yesterday.)

* Wrap em up in the loop. (It’s shocking how many people allow the cross collar grip in kneeshield. Good thing though, that I have no qualms about making them suffer for it.

* Smoothly transition back to the closed guard. (Some guys react to the tilt by long stepping their leg back to increase their base. It’s a gift. Not only is the closed guard wrapped up for you like a present on Christmas day, but there are also attacks you can hit right after the transition.)

And that’s not all. When you make your adversaries react in ways that you can easily predict, there’s almost always some way that you can take advantage of their reaction.

You just have to think about the game in that way.

‘Tis one of the reasons some of my attacks are downright devious.

Anyway, if you want to learn more about these half gyardy stuff, my “Half Guard Trickery” course awaits.

Here’s the link:

Aug 23

The experience left a bad taste in my mouth

Back in my purple belt days, I had an experience that still annoys me to this day.

It happened not that long after my promotion, and the scene of the crime was a Grapplers Quest hosted up in PA.

First of all, you should know that when I did local tournaments, I signed up for everything. I wanted all the experience I could get. And at purple belt that meant jumping in the shark tank in No-Gi, where all the purple, brown and black belts swam.

And that’s where it happened.

It started in my weight division, after I won my first match against a big and strong Russian. Hah, he wasn’t ready for the half, and once I swept, his doom was sealed.

In the final, I went against a brown belt who was playing an odd game. I just didn’t realize it until it was too late.

He pulled guard on me, but it didn’t feel like a good guard. It was loose. Open. And it didn’t take me long to pass at all.

I was up. I was winning.

But then he did something that made no sense at all. He stretched his legs out and laid out completely. Nothing was standing in the way of me taking mount.

It was a gift!

I couldn’t resist.

That was one of my positions. I was confident that I could finish there because even back then my no-gi ezekiel was straight fire.

So I went for it….

But then suddenly, he came alive. With explosive energy, he bumped my hips upward, at the very moment I slid over to mount, and shot one leg through my legs and around to leg reap.

Once there, he transitioned to the heel hook.

I tapped.


It was frustrating but I had no idea how to defend it. In my academy, we had never worked on it.

That’s not the worst thing though.

In the absolute, we met again. And this time, I was more cautious. I raked up points and tried to submit from side control but it was no go.

Time was ticking. Victory was in sight.

But then I did it.

I couldn’t resist.

In the room, I had built habits around going after the mount position. And in a moment’s lapse, I went for it again.

The result?

Absolutely the same.

He heel hooked me again in the same exact way.

It was straight robbery, but I could only blame myself.

Don’t make my mistake. Learn the ins and outs of every submission. You must learn how they function and how they can be stopped.

Nothing else will give you as much confidence on the mat.

If you know without a doubt that you can defend submissions, it will allow you to truly unleash your game.

And one of the very best ways to make yourself more impervious to submission is to study setups. You want to be see an attack coming from a mile away. And if you can consistently….


It becomes so much slip through threats like an eel in water.

And if you would like a little help in the form of principles and tactics, there’s a place you can go.

It’s right here:

Jul 31

In a bitter battle, the elbows clash against the knees

A few years back, Nic Gregoriades crossed the Atlantic and eventually found his way to Delaware to teach a seminar.

If you don’t know, he received his black belt from the all time great, Roger Gracie, and he is the major creative force behind the Jiu-jitsu Brotherhood.

I happen to like his style (its very focused on concept).

So I traveled through twists, turns and back roads to attend. And we’re going to talk about one of the concepts I learned from that event.

It’s the idea that there is a micro battle that is constantly fought between the elbows and the knees.

Case in point:

In mount, the elbow escape is my favorite method of getting out. I like how it easily connects to half guard. When I first learned it though, I had a lot of trouble getting my knee under one leg.

That left me stuck in the position (not fun).

And one of the many adjustments that I made a difference for me is an emphasis on getting my elbow inside of the knee on one side. That little micro position allows me to easily push that knee lower on my body, which in turn makes it easier to slide my knee under the shin.

From there, it’s a fait accompli. I’m out of there. Dueces.

On the flip side though, when I’m on the top, I always aim to keep my knees inside of my partner’s elbows. It allows me to easily expose the arms. Even when they’re super defensive, I can drive my weight forward and slowly but surely separate their elbows from their body.

That’s when the armbar transition opens up.

And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve hit it with that exact same setup.

Ultimately, it is a fight for the inside space. If you win there, the elbows can beat the knees and the knees can beat the elbows.

It just comes down to who focuses first on the right battle.


And in fact, that’s the focus of my newest course. It’s just about these micro positions and adjustments that make a difference in the game. And I’m expanding my weekly taping agenda to include at least one addition a week.

If exploring the micro game sounds like your cup of tea, there is a place you can go to learn.

It’s right here:

Jul 16

Better than the average mechanic

Mat chat time:

Many moons ago, after a great training session, amidst many grand puddles of sweat, a few of us had a discussion.

I could regale you with a fascinating tale of how it took many turns and covered several topics.

But no, I just want to share one thing.

One of my teammates used to work in the car industry. And he often found himself bored with routine maintenance and daily customer interactions. But he LOVED new and challenging projects. They motivated him.

While he was telling his tale, I felt an instant sense of connection.

I’m the same way. I love a challenge because it is only by stretching ourselves that we grow. And growth excites me.

Get thee away from me, average.

We aren’t friends.


He also told a story about the part recall on a certain model of car. The estimated time for service was 30 minutes. And he said most mechanics took an hour and a half to do the work.

But listen to this.

He was different.

It took him 15 minutes. Why? Because he was efficient. Through repetition, he learned the process in and out.

There’s a lesson there if you choose to snatch it.

Challenging yourself to solve new and interesting problems is one path to growth, but it is not the only one. It’s also possible to grow through improvement of process.

And the same principle applies to our game of choice.

Don’t get so excited by learning new movements, concepts and techniques that you neglect deep exploration.

In fact, at the very least, give yourself a monthly project.

It should focus on one topic. And your goal is to dig as deep as possible. Shoot for a high number of reps. Challenge yourself. And make some progress every time you step on the mat.


Hell, if you’re a half guardian, I’ll even give you heaps of help.

It can be found here: