Apr 07

Two simple improvements to the knee cut pass

The other day, a student asked me about a problem he’s been having often during rolls.

Over and over again, he gets to one of the very best positions for finishing the knee cut pass (deep underhook and head tight against the ear on the other side), but yet (get this) he goes noooowhere. His opponents lock up his leg like a death vise.

And it’s been bothering him…. ALOT.

Frankly, it’s a common problem. And it stems from focusing too much on using the knee to cut through the guard. The name of the pass definitely doesn’t help in that regard either.

Where they go wrong is that they don’t realize how hip dominant the pass truly is.

There must be a connection between your hip and your opponent’s body, and THAT is what gives you the most leverage for making the pass finish as smooth as silk.

It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about the knee cut.

Mar 30

Hip tilt setup to the hand gun choke

A few days ago, a pal of mine sent me a link to a video.

He immediately notices some similarities between its execution and the principles I stress when teaching the loop choke. So immediately he thought I might want to check it out.

He’s a good guy.

And I appreciate that because he was damn right. There were, indeed, similarities. And yesterday, I experimented until I got it to work.

And I have to say this:

Neil Melanson’s hand gun choke works best when I treat exactly like a loop choke. In fact, it is a loop choke in no-gi form.

There’s like twins that were split at birth.

Yes, the grip might be different, but everything else is virtually the same.

In fact, having both attacks in my arsenal means that I can use the same setup with or without the cross lapel grip to set up the choke. Boom, in an instant, my attack just got a little more devious.

And that’s what a principled based approach can do for your game.

One of the absolute most inefficient ways to improve at this game that we call Jiu-jitsu is to consider all technique to be isolated bits of knowledge that you must learn one by one.

It doesn’t work that.

And if you force yourself down that route, only plateaus await you.

The better path is to look for the connections. Find the aspects of the art that apply to more than just one situation.

I call them one-to-many relationships.

And generally, there are either principles or movements.

In this case right here, the following principles apply to both attacks:

  • For any blood choke to be effective, both sides of the neck (the carotid arteries) must be blocked so that the brain is deprived of the blood it needs to function.
  • The attack is initiated when the opponent’s head is lower than yours.
  • The opponent’s head must be directed to outside of the hip on the side of the choking arm. (Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to force their forehead to touch the hip.)

And with those principles as a framework, I know exactly how the attack must be setup. And I know how to recognize any opportunities for the attack the very moment it appears.

That’s just one of the benefits that approaching the game from principles first gives you.

And you can learn more about how I approach the game here:

Mar 18

The strongest armbar setup grip I know for no-gi

The other day, I was about the grip I prefer for setting up the armbar in no-gi, so I after an open mat, I jumped on the good ol’ book of faces and went live.

This grip was only showed to me once.

That was enough though.

I had to see once to know that my armbar setups would never be the same. It was a game changer, and it blew my mind in an instant. Fundamentally though, it’s built on solid principles.

In any situation where you can put someone close to a submission, you limit the force they can create and the movement that they’re capable. And right here, you’re creating instant pressure on the shoulder that is similar to the shoulder lock.

It’s not quite enough to finish, but it’s enough to control.

And once you feel the control you have with that grip, it changes a lot.

In the gi though, I still prefer to play with the lapel.


It’s because it opens up my attack options far beyond just the armbar, and the deets on the best system I use can be found here:

Mar 15

Four essential sweeps for closed guard

Over the years, these four sweeps have served me well.

And each of them give you attack options in slightly different situations.

Case in point:

  • The pendulum sweep works like a charm when you get the initial setup for the armbar (the elbow crosses the center line) but can’t quite escape your hips all the way for the ideal finish angle.
  • The hip bump sweep excels when you break posture and your opponent pulls away from you. Their momentum can helps you. It’s a glorious thing.
  • The scissor sweep can be added to any attack sequence that has a cross collar grip. And lately, I’ve been even playing with setups that are initiated from half guard.
  • The xande sweep is great when you can’t break grip or want to force some action. I especially like it as a counter to belt or pants grips in the closed guard. It can sneak right up on people.

So if you’re just starting out and you’re wondering where you should focus your attention, these four sweeps are a great place to start.

And for more closed guard goodness, check out the deathlock course:

Mar 02

3 rules of thumb for making the loop choke more effective

Over the last few months, a change has been happening in my game.

Out of nowhere, the loop choke just started clicking for me, and I’ve been terrorizing the mat with it left and right. Hell, it’s gotten so bad that I’ve hit the same setup on three different people in one night even after teaching the technique earlier in the day.

They knew it was coming.

It didn’t matter though.

And it’s not because of some black belch magic either.


The culprit was principles and nothing less.

In fact, I operate by three rules of thumb that have served me well.

First, the index finger of my collar grip must touch my opponent’s collarbone…. Second, when I initiate the attack my head must be higher than theirs…. And third, I must direct their head towards the armpit of my choking hand and cinch it in tight against the side of my hip. In some ways, it’s similar to the guillotine but not quite.

And I’ll tell you a sekret.

If you would like to see these principles in action and two setups for choking fools out, it’s easier than you might think. Just a bit ago, I loaded up a lesson on the Tube all about it.

And you can discover it here: